Rebutting Right Wing Zombie Lies About “Socialism”

Every time the Democratic Party has passed a progressive reform that benefits the poor and middle class, the GOP has raised the scary specter of “socialism.” When Franklin Roosevelt saved capitalism from itself during the 1930s with needed reforms such as Social Security and the minimum wage, America’s billionaire class accused him of being a communist. A front group for America’s wealthiest citizens described the New Deal in the following inflammatory language: “There can be only one Capital — Washington or Moscow. There can be only one flag, the Stars and Stripes, or the red flag of the godless union of the Soviet. There can be only one national anthem, the Star Spangled Banner or the Internationale.”

Approximately thirty years later, a washed up actor named Ronald Reagan was hired by the American Medical Association to oppose Medicare. Reagan not only predicted that passage of Medicare would be the end of freedom in America but he also accused John F. Kennedy of being a Marxist. In a 1960 letter to Richard Nixon, Reagan described Kennedy in the following terms: “One last thought — shouldn’t someone tag Mr. Kennedy’s bold new imaginative program with its proper age? Under the tousled boyish haircut is still old Karl Marx — first launched a century ago. There is nothing new in the idea of a Government being Big Brother to us all. Hitler called his ‘State Socialism’ and way before him it was benevolent monarchy.”

The next major expansion of health care after the passage of Medicare in 1965 was the enactment of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Obama Care in 2010. Once again, the radical right falsely described a progressive reform aimed at helping the American people in apocalyptic terms. The ACA was routinely described by the GOP as a so-called “government take over” even though a significant portion of the expansion of health insurance was delivered by private health insurance companies. Obama Care was described by disgraced former Fox News entertainer Bill O’Reilly as socialism, free stuff, income redistribution and capitalism versus socialism.

This discredited point is being raised again by the GOP in the 2020 election cycle since every Democrat running for president favors expanded health care and educational opportunity. It goes without saying that the D.C. Republicans are lying again. Simply stated, the Republicans can’t win an election on their own ideas so they have to lie about the Democrats to win.

Our job as Democrats is to act as fact checkers and rebut right wing zombie lies. We can’t count on the so-called “liberal” mainstream media to do it so we have to do it ourselves. I will now rebut the two most pernicious right wing lies about so-called “socialism.”

  1. Democrats Will Bring Venezuela’s Economic Policies to the U.S.A.

This is a very common right wing talking point since the Venezuelan economy has been in a state of depression for years. What the Republicans don’t tell you is that Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro consolidated their power through the kinds of authoritarian methods that are supported by Trump. They packed the courts and re-wrote the elections rules so they could never lose another election.

Once Chavez and Maduro gained total power, they enacted policies that bear no resemblance to those being advocated by any Democrat running for office in 2020. Initially, the Venezuelan regime created hyper-inflation by printing money like the Germans did in the Weimar Republic during the 1920s. Subsequently, the regime then instituted disastrous price controls to bring down inflation. All that did was create significant shortages of goods because businesses couldn’t make any money selling at a steep discount.

The Venezuelan regime compounded that damage by attempting to implement a Cuban style command control economy and by nationalizing most major industries. Chavez nationalized the steel, agriculture, banking, gold mining, telecomm, electricity, travel and transportation industries.

Needless to say, no Democratic elected official or candidate supports those kinds of disastrous and failed policies. The Republicans are simply creating a fictional straw man.

2. Democratic Socialism Will Lead To A USSR Style Tyranny.

This is the craziest theory of them all. I have several conservative friends who post extensively about politics on Facebook. A common theme I’ve seen this year is that the Democrats’ so-called “socialism” will bring Soviet-Maoist type communism to America. You can’t make this stuff up. This is an example of one of the posts I’ve seen:

I’ve tried to explain to them that democratic socialism in places like Western Europe and Scandinavia is radically different (in a good way) than the kind of murderous tyrannies that ruled the USSR and China during the 20th century. Their counter-argument has been that democratic socialism inevitably morphs into a Soviet type tyranny.

The reality is that before the communist take overs in countries like Russia, China and Cuba, those countries had corrupt kleptocracies in which the super wealthy possessed most of the money and all of the power. Moreover, no advanced first world country with a strong social safety net has ever evolved into a version of the USSR, Maoist China or Cuba. It has never happened.

The stakes couldn’t be any higher this year. A united Democratic Party can win. On the other hand, a divided Democratic Party would hand Trump a second term. It’s clear that about 55% of the voters oppose Trump. Will they show up to vote? Will they be allowed to vote? Those questions will decide the election.

Trump can’t win this election but we Democrats could lose it. We can’t let that happen. United we are strong. United we will win. Don’t forget that!

I’m a trial lawyer, a Democratic activist and a sports fan.

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